Practice Relating to Rule 134. Women
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) states:
Female POWs [prisoners of war] must be treated with due regard to their gender and must in no case be treated less favourably than male POWs. Their gender must also be taken into account in the allocation of labour and in the provision of sleeping and sanitary facilities.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on the treatment of prisoners of war (PWs):
Female PWs must be treated with due regard to their gender and must in no case be treated less favourably than male PWs. Their gender must also be taken into account in the allocation of labour and in the provision of sleeping and sanitary facilities. They must also be specially protected against rape and other sexual assaults.
In its chapter on the treatment of civilians in the hands of a party to the conflict or an occupying power and, more specifically, in a section entitled “Provisions common to the territories of the parties to the conflict and to occupied territories”, the manual states:
Women must be specially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution or any other form of indecent assault. Subject to special provisions relating to health, age or gender, protected persons must receive equal treatment without any adverse distinction based on race, religion or political opinion.
Canada’s Prisoner of War Handling and Detainees Manual (2004) states that troops are authorized to search detainees with the following constraints:
[M]embers of the same sex must search detainees. When this is not possible scanners should be used. If scanners are not available then authority to search by a member of the opposite sex must be obtained from officers of company commander status or above. In every case armed personnel should cover the search.
The manual further states that CF (Canadian Forces) personnel should treat detainees humanely in accordance with international law and adhere to the following rules:
[T]here is to be absolutely no sexual contact with detainees and physical contact is to be kept to the minimum extent necessary to carry out the duties involved, such as apprehension, search, transport of the detainee and medical inspections.
With regard to the handling of female prisoners of war, the manual states:
[T]hey should always be treated with the due regard to their gender and that in no case are they to be dealt with any less favourably than their male PW [prisoner of war] equivalents. Whenever possible, within operational constraints, female PW are to be separated from male PW in the process of evacuation from the point of capture.
With regard to the searching of prisoners of war, the manual states that “PW are to be disarmed and searched as close to the point of capture as possible by members of the same sex. When this is not possible an officer must be present.”
With regard to the interrogation and tactical questioning of prisoners of war, the manual states:
PW are entitled in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour. Women shall be treated with all the regard due to their sex and shall in all cases benefit from treatment as favourable as that granted to men.
In 2012, in a statement before the UN Security Council during an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the permanent representative of Canada stated:
Around the world, women and girls continue to be victims of sexual violence, including rape as a weapon of war. …
… We must be persistent in denouncing violence directed against women and girls, and promoting their empowerment. While all civilians deserve equal protection, it is important that efforts toward international protection take into account the particular vulnerabilities and capacities of individuals and groups.
In 2013, Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development issued a press release entitled “Standing Up for Victims of Sexual Violence in Conflict Areas”, which stated:
Foreign Affairs minister John Baird today announced that Canada is taking further action in preventing sexual violence against women and girls in conflict areas. Canada will contribute $5 million this year to help prevent conflict-related sexual violence and to respond to the needs of victims.
This contribution reflects Canada’s continued and steadfast resolve to end all forms of violence against women and girls abroad.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) contains several specific rules intended to protect maternity cases and expectant mothers.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on targeting:
Hospital and safety zones can be established by parties to a conflict to protect the following persons from the effects of armed conflict:
c. expectant mothers; and
d. mothers of children under the age of seven.
In its chapter on land warfare, the manual states:
If circumstances permit, the parties to a conflict must endeavour to conclude local agreements for the removal from besieged areas of wounded, sick, infirm, and aged persons, children and maternity cases. The parties should also permit passage to these areas of:
e. essential foodstuffs, clothing, and tonics intended for children under the age of 15, expectant mothers, and maternity cases.
In its chapter on the treatment of civilians in the hands of a party to the conflict or an occupying power, the manual provides: “Special protection and respect must be given to the wounded and sick, the infirm and expectant mothers.”
In its chapter on rights and duties of occupying powers, the manual states:
The occupying power is under an obligation to allow free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and … essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases.
Canada’s Prisoner of War Handling and Detainees Manual (2004) states with regard to the special dietary requirements of prisoners of war (PW): [P]regnant female PW are … to be provided with appropriate dietary supplements as directed by the Canadian or coalition Medical officer”.
With regard to the liability for work duties, the manual states: “pregnant female PW are not to be employed on any work that might, directly or indirectly, endanger their health or that of her unborn child”.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides, with respect to non-international conflicts in particular: “The death penalty shall not be carried out on pregnant women or mothers of young children.”
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) provides in its chapter on non-international armed conflict that “the death penalty shall not be carried out on pregnant women or mothers of young children”.